The effect of perchlorate, thiocyanate, and nitrate on thyroid function in workers exposed to perchlorate long-term

Lewis E. Braverman, XueMei He, Sam Pino, Mary Cross, Barbarajean Magnani, Steven H. Lamm, Michael B. Kruse, Arnold Engel, Kenny S. Crump, John P. Gibbs

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112 Scopus citations


Perchlorate (ClO4-) and thiocyanate (SCN-) are potent and nitrate (NO3-) a weak competitive inhibitor of the thyroid sodium-iodide symporter. To determine the effects of long-term, high ClO4- exposure on thyroid function, we conducted a study of 29 workers employed for at least 1.7 yr (50% over 5.9 yr) in an ammonium ClO4- production plant in Utah. Serum ClO4-, SCN-, and NO3-; serum T4, free T4 index, total T3, thyroglobulin (Tg), and TSH; 14-h thyroid radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU); and urine iodine (I) and ClO4- were assessed after 3 d off (Pre) and during the last of three 12-h night shifts in the plant (During) and in 12 volunteers (C) not working in the plant. Serum and urine ClO 4- were not detected in C; urine ClO4 - was not detected in 12 of 29 and was 272 μg/liter in 17 Pre workers; serum ClO4- was not detected in 27 of 20 Pre; and serum and urine ClO4- were markedly elevated during ClO4- exposure to 868 μg/liter and 43 mg/g creatinine, respectively. Serum SCN- and NO3- concentrations were similar in all groups. Thyroid RAIUs were markedly decreased in During compared with Pre (13.5 vs. 21.5%; P <0.01, paired t) and were associated with an increase in urine I excretion (230 vs. 148 μg I/g Cr; P = 0.02, paired t) but were similar to those in the C group (14.4%). Serum TSH and Tg concentrations were normal and similar in the three groups. Serum T 4 (8.3 vs. 7.7 μg/dl), free T4 index (2.4 vs. 2.2), and total T3 (147 vs. 134 ng/dl) were slightly but significantly increased in the During vs. Pre workers (P <0.01, paired t). Thyroid volumes and patterns by ultrasound were similar in the 29 workers and 12 community volunteers. In conclusion, high ClO4- absorption during three nights work exposure decreased the 14-h thyroid RAIU by 38% in ClO 4- production workers compared with the RAIU after 3 d off. However, serum TSH and Tg concentrations and thyroid volume by ultrasound were not affected by ClO4-, suggesting that long-term, intermittent, high exposure to ClO4- does not induce hypothyroidism or goiter in adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-706
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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